Brittany Amano ’16, a Post-Graduate from Honolulu, Hawaii, is no stranger to hunger. As a child growing up with her single mom and grandmother, she often relied on local food banks and arrived home after school hungry, Amano told The Phillipian. Inspired by the difficulties she and her family experienced, Amano founded “The Future Isn’t Hungry,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money and resources for youth experiencing poverty and homelessness in America, as a 12-year-old.
“With our family split and resources often depleted, we were often left hungry, so I knew how it felt to go to school hungry. I knew how it felt to go to the food bank and to see only unhealthy foods there. I knew how it felt to go to school without new school supplies or a brand new pair of shoes and I knew how it felt to not celebrate Christmas. All of these personal experiences caused me to start [the organization] at a young age,” said Amano.
Amano began by collecting donations from her neighborhood, prompting her community to help raise money and resources. Through a project called “Friday Food Bags,” Amano helped students from low-income families bring a bag of food home each Friday, which provided these families with sufficient nutritious food for the weekend.
“When most of us are looking forward to breaks and going home, a lot of those kids are dreading it because they are worrying about where their next meal would be coming from… The main difference between us and a regular food bank is that one, it is completely youth-run and second, we are all about healthy and balanced food,” said Amano.
While the main goal of the organization is to prevent hunger, “The Future Isn’t Hungry” also promotes literacy in youth living in low-income households, homeless shelters and foster homes. Furthermore, the nonprofit works with corporate sponsors such as the Jefferson Awards, the N.F.L. and GenerationOn to provide school supply kits, Christmas presents and brand new shoes that enable students enter each new school year with confidence.
Just three years after its establishment, Amano’s organization has branched out to all 50 states and will have helped nearly 650,000 people by December 2015. Amano received the prestigious Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service by a person under the age of 25 in the category of hunger and poverty in June.
“I have been traveling the world ever since [I was 14] to share my message, to encourage other youths across the country to get involved and to teach them that you are never too young to make a difference. I do that by sharing my personal story about how I did it,” said Amano. “You don’t need the money, the power, the connections. You just need the will to make a difference.”
Despite her successful work as a young entrepreneur, Amano expressed regret for missing out on some typical high school experiences.
“I never really had the experience of going to a full week of classes… and I knew that when I go to college this year, I knew I wouldn’t be used to going from traveling around the country to actually going to school. So Andover gave me the opportunity to be a normal high school student for a year,” said Amano.
During her remaining year at Andover, Amano hopes to explore and pursue new passions that she did not have the chance to consider when focusing on expanding her nonprofit organization.
“I am excited to come to Andover and take a break from traveling the country to speak at conferences and be a normal kid. I’m especially looking forward to attending my first school dance, joining clubs and sports and actually being able to attend class continuously,” said Amano.
In addition to being the founder of “The Future Isn’t Hungry,” Amano is also the recipient of the 40 under 40 Award, given by “Pacific Business News,” and Running Start Women to Watch. She was also featured by “People” Magazine, MTV, Today Show, Al Jazeera America and other news outlets.
After her year at Andover, Amano plans to attend Duke University.